RotT reflects on being a Tigers fan in Cleveland

Andy Van Slyke throwing water onto Mustard, photo by Samara Pearlstein

Let’s be honest, this Cleveland series was a freaking mess. I attended the only Tigers win of the series and even THAT was a mess. When you get a win mostly because Jose Veras forgets where he is and balks in a run, that’s not a win in which you can take a whole lot of pride.

–They have a hotdog mascot race in Cleveland. In the photo up top there you can see Andy Van Slyke (all the way on the right) throwing a cupful of water on Mustard as it speeds past the Tigers dugout. I wonder what Mustard ever did to Andy Van Slyke? Perhaps it once stained a favorite shirt, or maybe he’s just more of a Ketchup guy.

–There are apparently only two places to go in all of downtown Cleveland: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Tower City Center mall thing/ballpark area (they’re connected by a walkway). Those two areas were crowded, and everywhere else we went was basically deserted. Also, nearly everyone I saw out and about in the city was a Tigers fan. Presumably if I had been there in the middle of the week it would have been different, but even on Friday the people walking around were almost all wearing Tigers gear.

–Cleveland fans are Not Happy with the team right now. Listening to Cleveland sports radio on Friday after the Victor Martinez trade was like aurally gazing into a bottomless black pit of despair.

–Even more depressing than the fact that the team and the fans are so depressed: the fact that the Tigers could saunter into such a thoroughly demoralized state of affairs and still lose two out of three.

–Getting a Victor Martinez bobblehead at the ballpark the day after he was traded was pretty funny. Seeing Justin Masterson (for whom VMart was traded) pitch on Victor Martinez bobblehead night was pretty funny. Watching Masterson shut down the Tigers for three innings, much less amusing.

–In the THIRTY-FOUR innings of baseball that made up this series, the Tigers had a total of THREE extra base hits (two doubles, and a Carlos Guillen homerrun). They managed a grand total of ZERO extra base hits in the last two games.

–How appropriate is it that I got to see Fernando Rodney’s first blown save of the season in person?

–Speaking of Fernando’s Saturday shenanigans, how about Jim Leyland’s decision to put him in the game after FredFred Porcello had thrown 8 amazing innings and was only at 91 pitches? This is something I did not understand or like at the time, and I do not understand or like it now. The Tigers were up by one run, so yes, it was a save situation, but why not let Porcello at least go out there to start the inning? According to the Freep “Leyland said it was a ‘no-brainer’ to protect Porcello’s impressive outing,” but there were plenty of brains involved as we puzzled over the move at the ballpark.

Fernando had pitched two innings on Friday night, so it wasn’t like he was coming in fresh. Porcello was looking strong AND, at 91 pitches, still under his nominal limit. Leyland let him throw more pitches than that (98) in a stupid loss to the Wrong Sox in his previous outing; why not let him at least try to protect his own lead here?

With a 20-year-old rookie at 91 pitches, close to his usual pitch count, and a closer Leyland prefers to bring in to start an inning rather than insert with runners on base, there was no question, even with Rodney coming off two innings Friday.

“If you’re talking about a veteran guy like [Justin] Verlander or [Edwin] Jackson, it may be little bit different,” Leyland said.

Jason Beck, DetroitTigers.com article

So it was a “no-brainer” because a) Leyland doesn’t like bringing Fernando in with men on base, I guess just on principle, because Fernando has actually pitched a hair better coming in with men on base this year, and b) FredFred is a tender youth. Those are both terrible reasons.

Yes, the Tigers ultimately won this game. But I once again point out that if Jose Veras doesn’t balk in a run in the top of the 12th, the Tigers very probably lose, and Fernando’s blown save would have been a huge contributing factor in that loss. You all know my feelings on Fernando’s pitching wayz, but I’m looking askance at Leyland on this one.

–Progressive Field is OK. Not a bad-looking park, and the between-inning ‘entertainment’ seemed to mostly consist of putting a camera on some random fan in the crowd and having them do trivia, which was more annoying than nothing but better than lots of the theme park schlock you’ll find elsewhere. But the indoor concourses are weirdly footballish and the fact that they don’t open up the entire park until an hour before gametime is, quite frankly, ridiculous. The bugs were not too bad

when I was there, which I guess was a plus.

–Every time I saw the word ‘Pronk’ (and you see it everywhere, they put it on all their Hafner-themed signs) I heard a donkey noise in my brain. I’m not sure if this is what you’re supposed to think of or not.

–What in the hell is Slider? I know it only exists because a Chief Wahoo mascot would starkly highlight the horrific racism of the logo to many of the people who feel comfortable ignoring that same racism when it’s static and 2D, but still, I don’t think a pink fuzzy nonbeing was the answer to that particular quandary.

–The throwback uniforms both teams wore on Saturday were great. The orange back pockets on the Tigers unis were particularly awesome, as was the fact that the old school styling convinced more Tigers to wear their socks up. This was quite possibly the highlight of the entire series.

–While I was away I saw that we’ve acquired Jarrod Washburn. A fond wave farewell to Luke French. We’ll get our first look at Washburn on Tuesday.

7 responses to “RotT reflects on being a Tigers fan in Cleveland

  1. You probably couldn’t see FredFred’s face close-up after the blown save since you were there in person, but on TV, he looked pretty devestated.

  2. Ditto about Slider! I kept having to watch these idiotic advertisements about that thing’s upcoming “birthday” since all I could get on TV was the Cleveland feed. Slider’s like some kind of escaped Sesame Street mutant … gone horribly wrong.

  3. In re Pronk sounding like a donkey:
    No, no you are not. Pronk is the funniest word ever

  4. Samara Pearlstein

    Heitk1le, noooo, we couldn’t see his sad little face very well at the time. Which is just as well, because I would have made squeaky sad heartbreaking noises of sympathy if I had properly viewed his suffering, and Cleveland didn’t need to hear that.
    Colt, yeah, he’s definitely muppet-esque, only… bigger. And pinker. With more hips. I have a photo where it looks like he’s trying to gently eat Bob Feller’s head, just wait ’til I get that one up.
    David, it’s a crazy word. I kind of love that they have a nickname for one of their players that isn’t, like, ARod or Miggy, but it still sounds like a donkey noise to me. :P

  5. always a jaguar

    they didn’t show van slyke throwing water on mustard on tv! that’s important stuff, we should have been told.
    i can understand why cleveland fans are so upset. martinez was by all accounts the heart and soul of that team. practically a team captain. he sounds like one of the few players who honestly would not have wanted to be traded from cleveland to boston. of course the fans would hate to see a guy like that go (and it sounds like he hated to see himself go). if they weren’t division rivals i would feel really bad for them…

  6. Samara Pearlstein

    Yeah… you know he was crying when he gave his ‘yup seems I’ve been traded’ interview to the Cleveland media? He kept talking about how his kid asked, “Daddy, are we still Indians?”, how Progressive Field was “his house”… he was coming to one of my teams and I still felt bad! It was wicked depressing.

  7. Pronk = part project + part donkey, so in some way you are correct.
    Now that he has been hurt, most Cleveland fans in the know just refer to him as Travis.

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